Report: College sportswear linked to Chinese internment camps

The Chinese government has detained more than 1 million Muslim citizens in the country’s Xinjiang region and placed them in internment camps where they are stripped of their language and religion and undergo political indoctrination. 

They are also forced to work in harsh conditions. Now, according to an Associated Press report, many of those in forcible detention make sportswear for American colleges and pro teams. The products are then shipped for sale in the United States. 

The AP tracked ongoing shipments from a factory inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear, a major supplier in North Carolina. Importing goods made with forced labor is illegal in the United States. Badger CEO John Anton said the company will source its supplies from other companies while it investigates the report.

“We will voluntarily halt sourcing and will move production elsewhere while we investigate the matters raised,” he said.

Badger sources some of its collegiate apparel from the privately-owned Chinese company Heitan Taida. That company has workshops located within the walls of the camps and it says its workforce includes detainees.

Badger Sportswear ships its items to collegiate bookstores around the country. The company’s CEO said it will review its sourcing practices after an Associated Press report determined some of its products were made by forced labor. 

Badger Sportswear ships all over the country including to a number of large college bookstores around the country, including Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania, Appalachian State University, University of Northern Iowa, University of Evansville and Bates College. Because Badger sources from a number of other countries in addition to China, it is impossible to tell if a particular item is a product of forced labor. 

All the teams and schools that responded to the AP condemned forced labor. The AP is working to confirm whether other U.S. companies source apparel from the camps. 

The Chinese government has conducted this umbrella response in the Xianjang region after a rise in political violence between some Uighur Muslims and the government. Reports indicate some detainees are forced to recite and sing political songs and learn Mandarin or suffer beatings or solitary confinement if they refuse to participate. 

U.S. political leaders are starting to take action. New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith called on the Trump administration to stop imports from Chinese companies connected to the detention camps.

“Not only is the Chinese government detaining over a million Uyghurs and other Muslims, forcing them to revoke their faith and profess loyalty to the Communist Party, they are now profiting from their labor,” Smith said. “U.S. consumers should not be buying and U.S. businesses should not be importing goods made in modern-day concentration camps.”

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